The twice-yearly launch of the Argos catalogue will be affected by a week-long strike by about 1,000 warehouse staff in the dispute over terms and conditions which will mean increased weekend working, adversely impacting on family life.
The strike, starting at 06:00 on Saturday (19 July), will hit the company's internal distribution centres at Basildon, Bridgwater, Castleford and Magna Park (Lutterworth, Leicestershire). The strike at Heywood (Greater Manchester) starts at 06.30. It will finish at the same times on Saturday, 26 July.
Unite, the country’s largest union which represents Argos warehouse staff, predicts that customers anticipating the new Argos catalogue - due to be launched on 26 July - will have their deliveries severely disrupted because of the aftermath of the strike.
The workers held 24 hour strikes on 15 June and 4 July - and Unite disputed the company’s contention that because the majority of the workforce had signed the new contracts, this undermined the industrial action.
Unite national officer for road transport and logistics, Matt Draper said: “The reason that our members felt pressurised to sign these contracts is that they would have lost the unsatisfactory one-off payment of £2,000 to sacrifice their family life for many years to come.
“And if they continued to refuse to sign the contracts, they faced being sacked. They had the metaphorical gun put to their heads to sign.
“This week-long strike coincides with the launch of the twice-yearly Argos catalogue keenly awaited by hundreds of thousands of people. The aftermath of this strike will severely affect the delivery of purchases that customers will be making.
“The crux of this dispute is Argos’ determination to push through a new 24/7 shift pattern, without offering our members a decent compensation package or make reasonable adjustments that would allow for a better work/life balance.
“It is going to cause havoc with childcare arrangements and mean spouses and partners will see much less of each other. It will seriously undermine the ‘work/life’ balance.
“Some of our members already work weekends, but that was agreed with Unite. The new proposals impact much more on family life.
Matt Draper urged the management to return to the negotiating table and relax the new strict criteria.
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940 and/or the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.
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• Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.